What prompts an author to kill her own book?
On December 1, 2018 my firstborn novel will die. I admit the prospect makes me sad. This book has been part of my life for a while.
I wrote the first draft in just six months in 2011. After several rewrites, professional editing, and more feedback and corrections, x0 became available on Kindle in 2012. The paperback version followed.
I’ve never totaled up the sales, because it’s not easy to separate a sale from a give-away. I guess I’ve been paid for about four hundred copies, and gifted at least as many more. I’d hope for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.
Times change. Sales of x0 have gone from small to nearly zero.
A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This guy pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.
I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I do need a new ISBN number (no problem). I also need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 800 humans who already read this story.)
And …. I need to kill x0. That is, I must take it off the market completely. No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.
Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.
Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I have. The original x0 came in at just under 119,000 words. The leaner new version is under 96,000. I’ve broken the chapters into smaller chunks. I’ve given more attention to point of view. I’ve taken the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’ve done my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.
I’m pleased with the result.
So while x0 will soon cease to exist, it will give birth to a new and better novel. I’ll be blogging all about it soon.